"Zombies! Zombies! Zombies!" (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard), edited by Otto Penzler: What exactly could a book titled, "Zombies! Zombies! Zombies!" be about?
I'm kidding, of course, but it's worth noting that the Otto Penzler-edited anthology of zombie tales probably isn't exactly what you'd expect.
The current generation of pop culture content consumers, who have been raised on zombie-apocalypse fare such as "Dawn of the Dead" and "28 Days Later" on big screens and "The Walking Dead" on small ones are accustomed to seeing zombies portrayed as bloodthirsty reanimated corpses roaming the Earth in search of a human snack.
But despite its rather uncomplicated title, "Zombies! Zombies! Zombies!" actually presents a more nuanced portrayal of death brought to life - one to which Gen Xers, Gen Yers and others probably haven't been previously exposed.
Not every zombie out there wants to eat your brains, kid.
"I have attempted to maintain some balance in this collection and have omitted some pretty good stories that, in my view, slipped into an almost pornographic sensibility of the need to drench every page with buckets of blood and descriptions of mindless cruelty, torture, and violence," writes Penzler, who is considered to be an authority on crime, mystery and other kinds of genre fiction (he also has edited a book on vampire stories).
True to his introduction, Penzler has selected 800 pages of zombie-themed short stories, but most of them are high on drama, tension and a feeling of the macabre and low on blood and guts.
Stories by Edgar Allan Poe, W.B. Seabrook and H.P. Lovecraft are guaranteed to provide the reader with a different prism through which to view creatures that aren't alive, but not fully dead.
And for those eager for a more traditional view of zombies, look no further than the Stephen King-penned yarn "Home Delivery," a more humorous than terrifying tale of the dead rising from their graves on a remote Maine island.
Each of the stories is prefaced with a short biography of the author, which serves as a good table-setter for what's to come in the succeeding pages.
As Penzler writes: "You will find in these pages some stories that you've never read by authors of whom you've never heard, and you are in for a treat."
I'd say it's a no-brainer.